« AnteriorContinuar »
In the summer, when there is the greatest need for the baths from the hygienic viewpoint, as well as that of comfort, the present facilities afforded by the private charities of New York are totally inadequate. In addition there are fifteen floating baths, provided by the city, free, anchored at intervals off the docks. With the utmost care in the selection of the location for the baths, the water cannot be of the purest. By way of illustration, the Floating Hospital of the St. John's Guild does not open its bath-room till the waters of the lower bay are reached. Although the floating baths are not all that can be desired, there is an increasing patronage from year to year. For the season ending September, 1896, there were 5,553,898 baths taken. During the intense heated term of last August, the numbers rose to 828,824 in one week. These facts indicate that there is a demand for the swimming baths of the summer. From the statistics that are elsewhere presented, a corresponding demand for cleansing baths also exists.
In certain sections of the city, in districts populous enough to make cities by themselves, there are practically no baths in the houses where people must live, and absolutely no public baths. For example, in one block on the west side between 66th and 67th streets, 940 families were visited in their homes in February, 1897, but of this number not one had access to bathrooms in houses where they live. These statistics reinforce those obtained by the Gilder Committee of 1894, who stated that out of 255,033 people coming within the scope of their study, only 306 had access to bath tubs in houses where they lived.
Each metropolitan city like New York should have one establishment where a swim may be had the year round. It is urged that the swimming pool is unsanitary, but, with insistence on practical precautions, these objectional features may be greatly minimized. At the great Marylebone baths, the swimming pool is emptied each night. The feature of the swimming bath is the opportunity for recreation and a sport that is so healthy as swimming. With the comparatively limited opportunity for the cultivation of the æsthetic or the musical tastes, thousands of the wage-earners must satisfy
these cravings of their nature with the dime museum or the dance hall. Recreation to them means a change of scene from the monotony of their daily work, hence they take up with whatever comes along. If a sport like swimming, which is so wholesome, could be afforded, these same young people might take to it with the same avidity with which they enjoy questionable pleasures.
In New York, like other large cities, there is a lack of halls or places of meeting for working men, where they may meet under conditions that are satisfactory to them. Many bodies of wage-earners are compelled to hold their meetings in rooms rented from the saloonist. The rental is at a very low figure, the proprietor recouping himself by the sale of his liquors. I have been told by the wage-earners that they do not like such conditions, but that they are powerless, because there are practically no other opportunities. In foreign cities, the swimming pool is floored over in the winter, and rented for entertainments, or for meetings which the working men may desire to hold. Other municipalities open gymnasia, with regular instruction on the payment of a fee. By this means, the scope of the recreative features is enlarged, and a small revenue is derived from the classes.
In addition to the recreative features of the swimming bath, the opportunity for instruction in swimming is of great value, particularly in the seaboard cities. In the London parishes the children of the public schools are sold tickets at a reduced rate, so that they may be encouraged to learn to swim. It is estimated that more than ten thousand school children were taught how to swim in the London baths last year.
Where there are swimming pools, there is opportunity for the formation of swimming clubs, which are being organized in large numbers among the artisans and mechanics. These clubs are growing to such an extent, that an International Swimming Association has been formed. Many of these clubs, both among the men and the women, rent the baths regular evenings, when they have their contest or entertainment.
An important extension in the bathing facilities of a large city is the establishment of baths in the public school buildings. The new bath in Brookline is situated very near the high school, for the express purpose of enabling the pupils to use the baths for instruction in swimming and for recreation. Many of the German cities equip the basements of the public schools with cleansing baths, and the pupils are detailed in classes to make use of them. Boston is about to try the experiment in one of her school buildings. In New York City, with the dense tenement house population, from which large numbers the school children are drawn, baths in the public schools are almost an imperative necessity. A strong argument for this recommendation is the result of the third week's inspection of the children in the public schools of New York, ordered by Hon. Charles G. Wilson, president of the Health Department. For the third week (April) there were 3,918 children examined. The doctors found and excluded from the schools children suffering from the following diseases: measles, 7; diphtheria, 5; scarlet fever, 1; croup, 1; whooping cough, 2; mumps, 12; contagious eye diseases, 31; parasitic diseases of the head, 169; parasitic diseases of the body, 9; chicken pox, II ; skin diseases, 10. The total number of children excluded as a result of the inspection of the week was 258, or almost 10 per cent. of those examined. The greater number of children were excluded because of parasitic diseases of the head. Opportunity for daily bathing would greatly minimize these diseases.
There are indications that our leading cities are realizing the imperative necessity of making public baths possible. Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Yonkers, Buffalo, and Brookline have already built small establishments, the last town having the honor to have erected the first municipal swimming pool, open the year round, in the United States.
In these days of colossal and imperial fortunes, their possessors should consider that their wealth is held as a sacred trust. A few decades ago the great benefactions were made almost exclusively to institutions of learning and hospitals, but there is now a wider choice for the worthy bestowals of large sums of money in perpetuation of a family name, or by
way of memorial to an individual. In the days of Augustus, the Roman who stood nearest his emperor bestowed a great bathing establishment upon his city. If Agrippa thought it not beneath his dignity to present a bath to his city, surely merchant princes in our American cities could make a like gift to their own municipality, so that the citizenship of the coming years would hand down their name in loving remembrance.
WM. H. TOLMAN.
Secretary of the Mayor's Committee on Public New York.
Baths and Public Comfort Stations,
THE MASSACHUSETTS FARMER AND TAXATION.
HE Massachusetts farmer complains that he is com
pelled to bear more than his share of the burden of taxation. Opening the constitution of the Commonwealth, he reads :
A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice * * are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government.” “Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty and property according to standing laws. He is therefore obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary ; but no part of the property of an individual can with justice be taken from him or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people.”
Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures of his person, his houses, his papers and all his possessions.” In accordance with these principles, power was given to the legislature “to impose and levy proportional and reasonable assessments, rates and taxes upon all the inhabitants of and persons resident, and estates lying within the Commonwealth."
From his personal recurrence to these fundamental principles of the constitution the Massachusetts farmer concludes that the real basis of taxation is personal service. Each must serve the State according to his ability. The share of the burden each must bear is according to his ability. The strong must do much; the weak what they can.
Each doing his best, should serve an equal length of time. When a draft is made to serve in the army, the time is the same for all. It would be unjust to make the weak man serve two years to the strong man's one, because the strong man may do in one year as much as the weak man in two.
The property of citizens is taxed, but only as an equivalent